I had four relatives in my family who lived long lives: my mother, my aunt, my uncle, and my dad.
Three of them had severe Alzheimer’s during the last years. But my dad, who lived to be ninety, (he should have lived longer, but that is another story) was sharp as a tack, right up to his last day. He had no signs of mental impairment.
I have often wondered why he was different. The other three took the advice of their doctors, and put themselves on low-fat diets. But my dad continued to eat a special breakfast that had been taught to him, which was full of animal fat. I think he kept sharp because of the special breakfast he always had, and the way he kept his mind active. I do not know if what he did will help others, but I have decided to share it.
The Food: Dad’s “Garbage”
Ever since I can remember, my dad always had the same breakfast. This was the menu:
- Two eggs with the yolks, fried in butter
- A small piece of rye toast, thickly spread with butter
- A thick slice of full fat cheddar cheese
- Several pieces of marinated raw herring
- Some smoked salmon
- Raw onions, that had been marinated overnight in vinegar
My mother, who was Russian, and felt she had a license to be rude, called this meal “garbage.” She ranted and raved at times about all the fat and cholesterol it contained. My dad continued to eat it every day, and eventually referred to it as “my garbage.”
I asked my dad why he ate it, especially when my mother was so mean to him over it. He said that his father told him that it would keep his mind sharp.
Interestingly enough, the butter, cheese, and egg yolks contributed valuable animal fat and other nutrients that are very important for nourishing the brain. Some studies have shown that eating eggs every day may be an important factor in maintaining mental function.
Both herring and salmon are very fatty fish. He ate them raw, though one had been fermented by smoking, and the other by marinating. Fermenting foods preserve and increase their nutrient value. Fish has been recommended for mental sharpness for thousands of years.
The ancient Egyptians believed that onions would heal and prevent all kinds of problems. Again, the onions were raw, somewhat fermented from the marinade.
My dad never wrote down phone numbers. He always memorized them, keeping them in his head. And he always remembered them when he needed to make a call. He could hold hundreds in his mind at a time, and was always able to recall them.
My dad always followed the news of the world, keeping himself current on every issue. He would watch or read about the news many hours a day. And he would think about the issues, analyze them, and come up with ways to solve them that I thought were much more sensible than what the politicians actually did.
I asked him once why he spent so much time on the news, and why he memorized the phone numbers instead of writing them down. He said that he liked to use his mind.
Some studies have shown that older people who are mentally active are far less likely to get Alzheimer’s.
Now, this is what he did, on advice from his father, who was also mentally sharp until the day he died. I do not know if this will work for anyone else.
But I am so grateful that he kept a sharp mind throughout his entire life.
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